Penis discharge (or urethral discharge) is a white discharge from the penile head or in other words liquid leakage through the opening at the tip of the penis (urethral meatus). It is often associated with a burning sensation when urinating. Neither urine nor semen, this fluid can have different colours and appearances, ranging from transparent and viscous to yellowish and dense. The cause of the urethral discharge is urethritis (irritation or infection of the urethra). Transparent and viscous spillage is due to the periurethral gland’s production of regular urethral liquid in response to sexual stimulation. Purulent discharge, instead, is always a sign of infection. It is not an HIV symptom. Most of the time in the test we find Chlamydia, mycoplasma, or gonorrhoea.
It has a transparent and viscous appearance, and it is the result of the average production of the small glands we can find in the urethral walls. These periurethral glands produce this slimy liquid physiologically in response to arousal (pre-ejaculate). However, the periurethral glands can increase the production in response to irritation like urine hyperdensity and acidic (dehydration, spicy foods, alcohol abuse), trauma (prolonged and intense sexual intercourse), or bath soaps.
Normal penile discharge may also occur after bowel movements. It is due to the squeezing effect on the main periurethral glands, close to the anterior wall of the bowel (Cooper’s glands) when hard stools pass through the bowel.
The collection of the liquid or a urethral swab is helpful to identify the bacteria involved in the infection. We collect and send the sample to the laboratory. After 3-4 days, the results are usually ready. We do not wait for the results, but we start antibiotic treatment immediately (empiric antibiotic therapy). This broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment has a good chance of effectiveness, and we can get a significant improvement after 12-24 hours.